Published Feb 23, 2012The immigrant experience is as varied as those that go through it, but some aspects are universal, particularly the negotiation of the gulf between assimilation and retaining cultural ties and traditions. From Halifax-based director Rohan Fernando comes Snow, which explores the experiences of one young Sri Lankan woman piecing her life back together after losing her family in the 2004 tsunami.
Snow is a quietly and precisely played piece focusing on Pavarti (Kalista Zackhariyas), who comes to live with her extended family in Halifax. Finding work cleaning hotel rooms, she finds herself in an undefined state of existence, drawn to a mysterious guest, who turns out to be suicidal, and attempting to please her family while fending off the advances of a Tamil grocery store proprietor her uncle, Ganesh (Mohan Fernando), sees as an ideal match.
Zackhariyas is solid as Parvati, reacting with an introverted distance to often-unbelievable situations. Never given to grandiose emotional moments, Zackhariyas makes the film work, adding depth and complexity to her character.
The film, however, is filled with strange, counterintuitive logic that helps move the plot forward, but seems farfetched. Parvati's reaction to the hotel room suicide attempt of the man she's grown close to might work in a magic realist context, but the film isn't strong enough to pull off anything quite so dreamlike, especially when its modus operandi is geared towards heightened realism.
In some ways, Snow comes off as a moralistic cautionary tale, although perhaps not intentionally. Parvati's climactic struggles, as she finds herself in the middle of nowhere after latching on to a vagabond (Ria Mae), suggest her search to discover herself in her adopted homeland may have been more fruitful had she stayed at home and obeyed her patriarch.
Director Fernando has clearly used the influence of growing up in the Tamil community, intrinsically connected to both his birthplace and his adopted homeland. Snow addresses tragedy on a personal scale, avoiding overblown melodrama and Fernando is lucky to have such a convincing lead on his side to help guide the film. (Kinosmith)